a stone in a river, 23

So many fly under false notions
yet Crow’s tail feather breaks

then splits
against a sliver of blue sky.

/ / /

Still casting back to Carolee’s line, “the false notion.”

I saw this for the first time, a few days ago. Crow flew in the fir, and his tail spread against air, leaving a glimmer as he sat. It was lovely. And usual, for those with just the right perspective.

Two, crows. Actually.

catching carolee’s plane

How to Set a Boundary in Units of Moisture

It’s not the silvered wings fault
they think they move,
make progress to some point
identified as necessary:
Gate, Oklahoma or Dodson, Texas
near a magical line on the 100th
meridian that separates wet from dry.

Every signal fires the same
starry glimmer through smoke:
Tears well our eyes and we
are as separate as threads
& can reweave our own pattern.
This fluff of time is all one
cosmic tea, but we who live
in clicks of clocks can serge
an edge in our bolts of cloth,
pink the cut edges. Keep
the threads from ravelling.

/ / /

Skipping stones with Carolee — I like her silvered wings that can’t kiss, in combination with an amazing dream last night concerning vast amounts of the most amazing bolts of cloth I have ever seen, amazing sewing novelties that made me squeal in my dream (no, I don’t sew), a thin ultralight bicycle, and living in Texas. I wish I could paint the clothes for you. Or any of it.

Yes. I have too many metaphors in this. But, well. It’s a first draft of a something.

Read more about the 100th meridian, if you are map nerd like me.

catching stone 22 & tossing it back to deb

Plane, twilight

We keep flirting with this word:
Destination. But he will have none of us.
We’ll have to settle, instead, for taking
his rival Retrospect to bed. The trouble
with turning back to the city of departure is
we’ve been behaving as though

we left it behind.

Silver wings glimmer with the false notion
they fly toward the sun. They’ll never be any closer
than they are now. One way,

or another,

they’ll come back to the ground without
having kissed a single star.


Deb’s stone #22 is here; my leaning toward the sun poem is here. This piece kind of loses interest for me after “silver wings,” but I will work with it.

from seeds here & in my backyard

Sunflower plants turn
toward the sun weeks
before flowers arrive.

The stalks must convince
the blossoms they know
what they are doing, well ahead
of believing themselves

buds will arrive.


My son Jack planted sunflower seeds in the circular flower bed we created inside our fence a couple years ago. We have alternately planted something there and let the weeds have their way. I noticed this year, for the first time, that the plants have been practicing following the sun across the sky. I’d always thought they waited for the flowers.

I wanted to write about it, though not make a poem containing only it. So I’m considering this a seed of its own. And it’s related for me to these (Deb’s 18th and 16th stones). It’s also, of course, not un-related to things going on in my life at the moment and how you can’t always hold the belief that something lovely is going to open up. But you do what you do because something somewhere in you knows.

I want to at least, for now, name it something unrelated to sunflowers. Maybe I will call it, “Hiring movers” or something. Not sure.

Going back a couple months …


The surprise that the new day begins so
soon after midnight, that we climb
from the murky bottom of one day
to the narrow opening of another. The newcomer

in the wake-up mirror appears bewildered,
like a scarf discovering it has two ends
and knowing right away that it will wrap both

around its lover’s neck. No one doubts
the fragility of the clearing inside
the throat, how its compromise is both
easy and deadly. Everyone is

ashamed of these imperfect affections,
old anxieties, torn between an idea of love
and its good practice. What’s difficult about
staying faithful is what’s difficult about squeezing

blue from the sky — no amount of wishing
makes it possible. We try it on: say
“dust wings” instead of “moth,”
say “come singing” instead of “men

beneath my window.” Our explanations
evolve just like our bodies: not clay
happenstance, something closer to fog,
yes, fog that unfurls from the perfect

and predictable set of conditions to obscure,
assume any shape it chooses to keep. Simply:
we go where we can walk without tripping over
our own stories. What the mouth accepts

from the cup is its own business. I want to learn
to go out with no shell. There’s infinity to consider.
And how I want to live through it all.
He tries to tell me, “Even miracles grow in rows

in fields just like corn, sweetening
at ordinary intervals.” I tell him, “No.
I must be the one to crawl then, up, out
of the sea to the land.” But that’s already been

done. And here we are now: at the river,
which dreams (of course) about the mountain
it left behind, remembers each lover
lost as a turquoise morning that followed

a hollow black night.


Remember this list of words (“An idea from Deb’s poem”)? Deb had used lines/phrasings from a final offering at The Big Tent to make a poem, and I sifted through her lines for pairs of words. You can visit that first link for the list of pairs (and they are below, as well, though interrupted by my notes). The only pair I didn’t use was “want warehouse” because I’ve already used that one (here).

I started this one in May by attempting a word association, writing down the first thing that came to mind from each pair. That list is below (at the end of this post). So that was May. I did it, and promptly forgot about it. And got distracted. And once in a while lamented about leaving it to collect dust, but still failed to return to it. And then a friend reminded me about the list, and I decided I’d been avoiding it too long. Sit down and write the fucking poem, already! (I said to myself. And meant it.)

And so that’s what I did last night and tonight. I tried to use them in order, and I tried to use my original thought/association, though I didn’t always succeed. Clearly, the draft above is the result of an exercise. I can’t get away with all that in a subsequent effort, but I feel good that I finally got back to it. And I think I found some things worth looking at again.

midnight surprise
The surprise that the new day begins
so soon after midnight

wake-up mirror
The surprise of the wake-up mirror

scarves discover
Like a scarf discovering its true love, its perfect neck

clearing inside
I didn’t expect to find this clearing inside

these imperfect
I am ashamed of these imperfect

want warehouse
There is a want warehouse, storage

anxiety torn
my anxiety torn between

about difficulty
What is it about difficulty that

squeezing blue

squeezing blue from the sky

dust wings
Dust wings is another way of saying moth, of saying

come singing

the men come singing beneath my window

clay happenstance
Our evolution just clay happenstance, just as easily, we could be

keep simply

keep simply what you cannot do without

walk without

i cannot walk without tripping over

accepts cup

what the mouth accepts from the cup

no shell

i go out with no shell

there’s infinity

there’s infinity to consider

miracles fields

miracles grow in row in fields just like corn

at ordinary
At ordinary intervals

crawling then
Crawling then up out of the sea to land

river dreams
The river dreams about the mountain it left behind

turquoise morning

each lover lost is remembered as a turquoise morning

yes fog
Yes, fog is the stuff that obscures

A response to reading Deb’s stones


I wake from a dream about an epidemic
and makeshift hospital with my left eye swollen.

There is no such thing as coincidence — only vestiges of trips
we remember in the strangest contexts, the smallest pieces.

What’s infected my lid is too tiny to be seen.
Memory’s that way. We throb and tear

with no visible cause. I work in silence at packing,
empty the dresser and closet I will leave.

Pulling sweaters from a top shelf, I feel a familiar pain
in my back, a slight twinge that will lead to days of spasm.

Lying on my stomach with ice on my back, suddenly
(but carefully) I am in that house on Taylor again,

on the floor where I covered myself with a red blanket
and wished the recurring pain away. The men

come and go, never warning they may not return.
I had no idea we would lose one another, no idea

we would find one another. These things happen
in patterns. No one knows the proper order, but learn instead

we are all foragers. Drawers here are going to be vacant
only a while. They’ll fill with new findings in need

of place. We may not ever remember what we started with
but we’ll weep about it a long, long time.


I’ve been dropping random notes into a document for this one for a few days. It may not be woven together entirely here (and of course some things may not belong at all). And of course, it’s a first draft.

It echoes more than my emotion about what Deb’s been posting; you’ll hear very clearly a couple of her phrasings: foragers all and remove all vestige of that strange trip.



corner of your eye sees. things not there really.
apparitions don’t register twice. circle the block
looking through fence-openings. small white cat
squeezes into the space between. doubt and certainty
are all. even the mouse caught in the jaw ponders.

UPDATE 12:45 p.m. EST
been so long since i’ve attempted a poem … feel like poking at it some …


corner of your eye sees. things not there really. twice
apparitions don’t register. circle block. look through
fence-openings. small white cat squeezes into space
between. doubt and certainty are all. warped boards
and splinters. caught in jaws, even mice ponder.

(A response to this.)


finding respite in pattern

All that color and splash
and it’s the blank that draws
me in, some neutral zone
to cool my chapped eyes,
tender a whirligig of sorrow
spinning softly against
the puff of a rasping billow.

Tell me you like the part
of my hair, or the way I
pick up a coffee cup.
Say my wrists have a grace
to flex under the weight
of lost golden bands.

* * *

It’s not much a poem, but it’s something to break the pattern of not-writing. I like all of Carolee’s Portland pictures, but this one spoke up first.

June poetry gong: Deb’s #3

When the Sun Comes Out So Do the Flyers

Bits of fluff float, tiny
whirligigs of aspirational intent
as effervescent as spring in the northwest —
ephemeral spring triggered by a shy sun
that came into its own.

We have been waiting.

White flies? Maybe.
You lift as if on thermals too tiny to note.
I imagine whirling dervishes slowed
to consider my sluggish awareness.

Oaf. Only two feet, no wings, no sense.

And a phone call from home. Or two.
Hold onto those floating vowels that don’t quite
connect the me to you – a frayed braided story.
Something about the universe flying
and the soft green of freshly folded leaves, aloft.

That day you were lost souls gathered
for a festival of warmth, respite from clay,
slow dancing only when absent fire is hot — not
here long. And how did we know you were lost?

The white dust gathered & glowed.
And flew.

/ / /

And more for our first gong.

The sky was cloudless, today.

First Warm Days bring flying creatures who seem to inhabit another world.

June poetry gong: Deb’s #2

ants: acrobat, Allegheny, argentine, bigheaded, carpenter, citronella, cornfield, crazy … crazy Rasberry, cut, false honey, field, fire, flying, fungus, ghost, harvester, honey, larger yellow, leafcutting, little black, little fire, night, odorous house, parasol, park, pavement, pharaoh, pyramid, red imported, red town, small honey, southern fire, thief, velvet, velvety tree and whitefooted ants; whitefooted, velvety tree, velvet, thief, southern fire, small honey, red town, red imported, pharaoh, pyramid, pavement, park, parasol, odorous house, night, little fire, little black, leafcutting, larger yellow, honey, harvester, ghost, fungus, flying, fire, field, false honey, cut, crazy Rasberry … crazy, citronella, carpenter, bigheaded, argentine, Allegheny and acrobat ants; acrobat, Allegheny, argentine, bigheaded, carpenter, citronella, cornfield, crazy Rasberry … crazy, cut, false honey, field, fire, flying, fungus, ghost, harvester, honey, larger yellow, leafcutting, little black, little fire, night, odorous house, parasol, park, pavement, pharaoh, pyramid, red imported, red town, small honey, southern fire, thief, velvet, velvety tree and whitefooted ants.

Little honey, find your way
past my sugared jam & crumbs,
beat a path to the velvety tree
& fly like a parasol in a fiery field.
A little black or larger yellow,
you crazy odorous red, red, red ghost
waving lines of bigheaded night.
Sweet ant, it isn’t June until you
cover my peonies with your adoration.

/ / /

More for our first gong. Just a bit of word play because I had no idea there were so many ants with such funny & interesting names. I don’t mind ants much. Of course, I don’t have fire ants up here in Portland.